Improving Organizational Collaboration with Wikis

Wikis have taken the business world by storm. They represent both a cost-effective way of managing your company's content and a radical paradigm shift in the way your business facilitates collaborative initiatives among employees.

At its heart, wiki is a collaborative software process that's designed for average users, regardless of their technological proficiency.

Content can be updated in real time with a minimal amount of administrative oversight or distribution requirements. After the initial setup, authorized users visit and update a common website, essentially creating a self-maintaining content management process.

Small businesses have embraced wiki technology wholeheartedly. While large corporations can afford enterprise-level content management systems, small companies have turned to wiki for a more cost-effective and efficient content management solution. In fact, some would argue that since wiki is known for stimulating higher levels of collaboration than traditional content management systems, small businesses actually have an advantage in facilitating collaborative workflows.

One of the nice things about wiki technology is that it can be applied to either internal or external knowledge bases. If you want to use wiki for in-house purposes only, it's relatively easy to create a page that is shielded by your corporate firewall. Here are just a few of the ways that companies large and small are using wiki to improve organizational collaboration.

  • Data centralization. The amount of content that is created for any given project can be overwhelming. Wiki centralizes corporate data (e.g. spreadsheets, docs, ppts and pdfs) in a central location where it can be accessed by anyone who has the proper authorization. The result is that project participants can quickly and easily work on the same document without the confusion of multiple versions.
  • Communication media. Wiki also gives your staff members the ability to embed standard communication media in a central database. Emails, IMs and other communication tools can be centralized for easy access by anyone who has been authorized to work on a specific project or workflow.
  • Authorization limits. In the past, collaborative file sharing has been inhibited by the possibility that a non-authorized user could significantly alter a critical document or knowledgebase. Wiki makes it easy to set limits for users so that a large group of people can read information even though only a small handful of people can edit or create content.
  • Audit trails. Collaborative processes are sometimes frustrated by participants' inability to see the contributions that have been made by others. Business wiki applications create a useful audit trail that shows how each participant has interacted with the content.

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